We Debunk 4 Common Stretch Mark Myths
Stretch marks, or, “striae”, can be a real nuisance. These narrow, indented lines—which often appear along the thighs, stomach, buttocks, chest, and arms—are developed as a result of accelerated stretching of the skin. When first formed they can appear like dark red, purple, or brown scars, and overtime can fade to appear lighter. The good news is that stretch marks are common and plenty of men and women have them. What’s more, they’re often not a cause for concern. The bad news is that they can make people feel self-conscious about their skin’s appearance, and can be quite difficult to hide or remove.
What many people want to know is if one can get rid of stretch marks altogether. Some say yes, some say no, so to get to the bottom of it we tapped a few of our consulting experts to bust some of the biggest myths about stretch marks and provide some much-needed clarity!
The Biggest Stretch Mark Myths, Busted
Myth #1: Stretch Marks Only Affect Women
According to plastic surgeon, and SkinCeuticals ambassador, Dr. Peter Schmid, your gender has absolutely no effect on the formation of stretch marks, since they can form on anyone. “Stretch marks affect both men and women,” he says. “Although stretch marks occur in both sexes, women tend to be more vocal about the condition over social media and online. I believe this is because women are very aware of changes in their bodies especially during and after pregnancy and as hormonal changes and imbalances become more evident.” Additional factors that can make stretch marks more obvious include yo-yo dieting and significant weight gain or loss. However, “stretch marks may occur in some during the normal growth process of the developing body,” Dr. Schmid adds.
Myth #2: Stretch Marks Are Only Caused By Weight Gain
While weight gain can cause stretch marks, there are other factors that can also cause them. “Stretch marks occur from expansion of the skin with an imbalance of collagen and elastin tissues resulting in visible dermal scarring,” says Dr. Schmid. “The causes of stretch marks can be related to age, genetics, hormones, and more.”
Myth #3: You Can’t Prevent Stretch Marks
Stretch marks associated with a genetic disposition cannot be prevented, but weight-induced stretch marks can. “One may reduce the likelihood of stretch marks by maintaining a healthy weight and diet and avoiding large changes in body weight, which can expand tissue and weaken elastin,” says Dr. Schmid. “The predisposition to stretch marks is genetic: some individuals naturally have a low occurrence because they have very forgiving, distensible skin. Others are simply more prone to them.” According to plastic surgeon, and SkinCeuticals ambassador, Dr. John Burroughs, keeping your skin hydrated with a nourishing skin care regimen can help prevent or minimize stretch marks from occurring.
Myth #4: You Can’t Treat Them
There are tons of options available to help even the appearance of stretch marks. However, not all stretch marks are the same. Board-certified dermatologist and skincare.com consultant Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali notes that the type and color of the stretch marks can make a major difference. Stretch marks with a red tint (ones that cropped up recently) are much easier to address than those with a whitish or silvery hue, which means they have faded over time, he says. Dr. Schmid also explains that while you can improve the appearance of stretch marks, some may never fully go away. “Stretch marks are scars, and scars are inherently difficult to improve or erase,” he says. “While the appearance of stretch marks may improve over time through a variety of treatment modalities, I always inform my patients that, although they may achieve a better overall look, stretch marks may not completely disappear.”